The One and Only Ivan

By Katherine Applegate

Dec 12, 2011 | Reviewed by TFK Reporter David Pomeroy

Genre: Fiction

Number of pages: 305

What’s the basic story line?

This is the story of a gorilla named Ivan, an aging elephant and a stray dog that live together in the nearly bankrupt Big Top Mall. They put on shows with other animals for the few patrons who come to the mall. Ivan, who has lived in captivity most of his life, is a good-natured, but lonely, silverback who loves art and food. He doesn’t think much about changing his situation until a young elephant is brought to live with him and his friends. With the help of a young girl and her father, Ivan dares to make a change for all of them.

Are the characters believable?

The animals in this book display human-like thoughts and emotions, and their personalities are believable. The joy and pain they feel is real. I think readers will definitely relate to these animals. The supporting characters—Ivan’s owner, the young girl who makes a special connection with Ivan, and her father—are also believable. Although the animals talk to each other in their own language, the only communication between the humans and the animals is unspoken feelings.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being best), how would you rate this book?

I would rate this book a 9. It is a beautifully written book that will appeal to animal lovers and those who like to see wrongs made right. The plot moves along quickly and is both interesting and humorous. The book held my interest from beginning to end.